Audition notice for Settlement Players June 2024 Production

Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends
Director James Barnard

Audition dates:
Sunday 24th March at 8pm, Hall
Monday 25th March at 8pm, Brunt Room
Wednesday 27th March at 8pm, Hall

Auditions, Rehearsals and shows – All are at The Settlement.
Letchworth Educational Settlement, 229 Nevells Road,
Letchworth Garden City, Herts, SG6 4UB

Performance dates will be Thursday 20th – Saturday 22nd June.
Technical rehearsal will be Sunday 16th June, and the dress rehearsal will be Wednesday 19th June.

Rehearsals occur on  Monday’s & Wednesday’s at 8pm and Sunday’s (times tbc)

Contact: James Barnard.
Mobile: 07979 082108

This is a two act play with a cast of 6 – three female, three male. It is set in a 1970s suburban living room. Reviewing the London revival of in 2012, Kate Kellaway acknowledged a review of the 1977 original where critic Benedict Nightingale noted that the play is about the “death of love”, and added that it is also about “death by conversation”, and the occasionally dark humour of the play thoroughly explores both themes.

The play begins as Diana prepares for the arrival of Colin, a friend who has been absent from her and her friends lives; she has been worried about how to approach him following the sudden death of his fiancée, Carol. She confides in Marge that she believes her husband, Paul, has been having an affair with Evelyn. Not only is this the case, but Evelyn’s husband John is well aware of this and unwilling to do anything about it. This is only the surface of the characters’ relationship tensions and Colin’s arrival exacerbates these. Unexpectedly, Colin is very happy and philosophical about his life circumstances, but while the rest of the party are near breaking point, he follows his unshakeable belief that he knows more about others than they do about themselves to the point where he leaves his unhappily married friends devastated. Colin’s arrival triggers a set of confrontations, and the play ends with Diana pouring the cream on Paul and breaking down.

I’m looking for people of the playing ages c25 – c55. The characters are old, if not particularly close, friends, but it isn’t specified how they know each other, so it’s the interplay between the actors / characters I’m most interested in.

Diana – unhappily married to Paul, and the owner of the house in which the play is set. She is focussed on supporting Colin, probably as a means of ignoring her own despair at the state of her marriage. She is initially understated, building throughout the play to the point where she expresses all her frustrations in a typically middle-class manner, in an incident involving double cream.

Evelyn – married to John, to whom she is persistently unfaithful, not out of malice but boredom. Surly and taciturn, she is something of an outsider to the group, but this does not exclude her from Colin’s unknowing and unintended character assassination. She has fewer lines than the others, but I’m looking for someone who can convey underlying emotions with a look.

Marge – Diana’s best friend, well-meaning but tactless. She is married to the unseen (afflicted) Gordon. I’m looking for someone who can play her with the balance between irritation and likeability.

Paul – Diana’s unfaithful husband, initially an affable, if aloof, man of the house. He appears to be an exercise fanatic but it becomes clear that this, and his extramarital affairs, are a cover for his unhappiness at his life. His liaison with Evelyn was uninspiring, and he ends the play with his character firmly trashed and cream on his head.

John – Evelyn’s self-conscious, fidgety husband and Paul’s business partner. He aspires to be more like Paul, and is afraid of confrontation. He develops more of a backbone as the play progresses, but does not lose his awkwardness. He’s a fun part, with the potential for understated yet scene-stealing physical comedy.

Colin – the crux of the play, he is kind-hearted and relentlessly optimistic, with an unfortunately misplaced belief that he understands human nature and people’s interactions. He’ll be played by someone who can engender a sense of innocence, even in the face of the devastation he causes.

As I say, I’m very flexible on ages. It would be lovely to see you on one of the audition dates, but if you can’t but would still like to be involved, please let me know and we can arrange another time.

James Barnard